Keeping Sprint Planning Engaging

Last post 04:14 am July 22, 2014
by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
07:14 pm July 21, 2014

I recently took over as one of the scrum masters (we have two scrum masters, who rotate every three sprints) for a team that has three week long sprints. Today we held sprint planning for Sprint 22, which lasted about five hours (with a 20 minute break in the middle).

The problem I noticed was that after a few hours of planning, a few members of the team started to become less engaged (or at least less focused), as they either got sick of being in a meeting all day, or just bored in general. So, the question I have is, are there any tips you guys have for keeping sprint planning meetings engaging throughout? My concern is that as people become less interested (and start wishing that the meeting was over), the planning that is done may reduce in quality and we might start missing things that we normally would've caught.

Today I don't think that was the case (I was able to refocus everyone to get the job done) but I'm worried about future planning sessions. One suggestion a team member came up with was breaking sprint planning into two sessions, with an hour break in the middle for lunch. That way people get an hour to get some food, refocus, and come back strong for the rest of planning. Has anyone tried that?

Thanks for any advice!

07:44 pm July 21, 2014


Breaking up the meetings can help.

Are you doing thorough Product Backlog Refinement? That can help too.

See here:

See also tip #5 here:

08:18 pm July 21, 2014


Thanks for the links, I'll be sure to check those out.

Last sprint (my first sprint) was the first time we really did any kind of backlog refinement, which was months and months overdue. So, unfortunately, most of what we're doing right now is highlighting stories that are no longer valid and removing them from the backlog. Once we get a few more backlog refinement sessions under our belts, that should help.

04:14 am July 22, 2014

Remember that backlog refinement is also a good way to de-risk Sprint Planning. Ideally you should be able to enter a Sprint Planning session confident that backlog uncertainty has already been largely mitigated and that there will be few if any surprises. This can reduce the length of the session and allows an early focus to be placed on technical delivery planning, which developers often find more engaging.